21 January 2011

Airline Security & Regulations = Major Changes

Would you rather drive or fly? Is time of the essence? With some recovery in the economy, more people are returning to the skies for their travels but for those who haven't traveled in awhile, might not be aware of the major changes that have taken place and are continuing to take place in the airline industry.

More changes are coming: body scans vs pat-down is the current hot topic. Due to recent terrorist threats, more invasive screenings are now happening. With all it's changes in security and ways of screening in the last few years, flying is still a great way to travel. I travel at least three times a year by plane and have just learned to be aware-of and roll with the changes as they're going to happen whether I like them or not. There are certain things that can be done ahead of time to minimize the frustrations of air travel. Don't forget to check your passport way ahead of your international travel time due to some restrictions by certain countries.

Airplane food is something you haven't seen in quite awhile and probably won't be seeing again unless you're on a flight of several hours or traveling international. So if you want to eat while you're in the air and not pay a small fortune for trail mix or a pre-packaged sandwich, either bring your own snack or eat before you get on the airplane. Many airlines no longer give free peanuts/pretzels and soft drinks due to sever cost-cutting measures.

In the past luggage could be checked in at no cost. Several of the major airlines are now charging for the first piece of checked luggage and more for a second piece. Check with the individual airline for their luggage policy. Remember: never check anything you can't live without; that includes medicines, jewelry, valuable papers, etc.

Plan for trouble! What will you do if you miss your plane or you have a travel delay due to inclement weather? Most airlines now give text, email and/or telephone alerts if they know about delays or flight schedule changes. But what happens if you're already at the airport on the first leg of a trip with 2 or 3 plane changes? What happens if you miss your connecting flights?

Be careful in duty free shops. Due to the limit on the size of liquids (3 oz. containers) that can be brought on board planes, this can be a major problem. Also, be sure you know the price before you pay in a duty free store as there are not many bargains.

There's lots to think about when traveling in today's airline world: "direct" vs "non-stop flights", upgrades, leg room, what to put in carry-on luggage, seat assignments, acceptable identification and documentation, stand-by, flyer miles etc. So: GOOD LUCK and have fun traveling.